Don't Mention the War


Biblical Defense

In the post below on Natural Right, I cited Aquinas’ philosophical account. If any of you happen to prefer to reason from Scripture, here is an article on the subject. 

More than you wanted to know about Ivermectin

 Scott Alexander does write long articles.  All of this one is at least somewhat interesting, but I particularly recommend scrolling down to the final section, the "Political Takeaway."  He's on one of my favorite topics, the difficulty of persuading people of anything when you clearly hold them in enough contempt to lie to them, and you give them excellent reason to believe you're hostile to their best interests because you consider them outside your tribe.

Spoiler on the specific issue of Ivermectin:  he leans toward the view that's becoming more common, and which I'm guessing has some validity, that Ivermectin seems most effective in societies with lots of worm problems, perhaps because worm infestations inhibit an effective immune response to COVID.  This is at best a tentative conclusion, however, and we'd all benefit from adopting a reasonably skeptical scientific viewpoint until the data are much clearer.

Put it on the usual footing

 An old Doonesbury cartoon from the 1970s showed a slow afternoon during the Watergate hearings.  "Have we got any more witnesses lined up?  No?  Well, then, the Chair opens the floor to hearsay and innuendo."

Natural Right

If you were a Briton in a village by the sea when the Saxons came to loot and burn your village, you would have a right to resist the looting and burning of your home even if you weren't a soldier. If you were, later, a Saxon on the same shore when the Vikings came to loot and burn your home, you would have a right to resist even if you weren't a thane. If you were, later still, an Anglo-Norman living on the same shore when the French came to loot and burn your village, you would have a right to resist having your home looted or burned even if you weren't a knight. 

This kind of thing is called a natural right. It is rooted in what St. Thomas Aquinas called the natural law
The natural inclination of humans to achieve their proper end through reason and free will is the natural law. Formally defined, the natural law is humans’ participation in the eternal law, through reason and will. Humans actively participate in the eternal law of God (the governance of the world) by using reason in conformity with the natural law to discern what is good and evil.... On the level that we share with all substances, the natural law commands that we preserve ourselves in being.... Natural law also commands those things that make for the harmonious functioning of society (“Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal”). 
'Thou shall not kill' is one of the more famous mistranslations in the Bible. 
“The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means ‘murder,’ not ‘kill.’ If the commandment proscribed killing as such, it would position Judaism against capital punishment and make it pacifist even in wartime. These may be defensible or admirable views, but they’re certainly not biblical.”
So you can kill, but not murder. When might killing not be murder? Well, when it is necessary to fulfill the natural law: to preserve life, and the harmonious functioning of society. For example, when resisting a horde intent on burning and looting your village. Allowing looting and burning might actually kill people who were just minding their own business, and it will definitely degrade the harmonious function of society. The latter is the higher and better end, notice: you might think avoiding death was more important, but in fact on Aquinas' model that is just a thing that we have in common with plants and animals. The better end, proper to human beings as creatures of reason, is to preserve a harmonious society that fulfills the human good in a fuller way. 

Dying to do that is honorable; it is why we praise soldiers who fought and died for our way of life. Killing to do that is acceptable, if necessary, and at least according to George S. Patton it is preferable to kill than to die for your country. 

Positive laws that come to defy or refuse the natural law are rightly reformed. Today we saw that our positive laws in fact defended the natural rights. It is important to ensure they continue to do, and to reject attempts to reframe them in ways that would defy this natural right to preserve our homes against lawless violence.

The reactions to the verdict are as unhinged as you expected

 This is barely an exaggeration:

They're pretty much lying to you all the time

Drew Holden gives a good summary of how blindingly bad the anti-Rittenhouse propaganda was.  I'll just add two more examples:  GoFundMe and Fundly shut down defense funds in August 2020, and Facebook started removing pro-Rittenhouse statements, and even videos, in September 2020.

Rittenhouse Acquitted

According to the New York Post:

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday on all charges for shootings that killed two men and injured a third during last year’s violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Emotions have been running high in anticipation of the jury’s verdict, with protests and shouting outside the courthouse and Gov. Tony Evers deploying National Guard troops to Kenosha.

The case left Americans divided over whether Rittenhouse, 18, was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

The teen faced five charges, including intentional homicide in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, as well as attempted homicide for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.

Judge Bruce Schroeder threw out a weapons charge against Rittenhouse on a technicality over the length of the gun’s barrel.

A seventh count against the teen for violating curfew on the night of the shootings was also dismissed after the judge ruled that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence.

Parents of a clump of cells

The idea started as several days of bereavement leave for parents who lost a child to stillbirth.  At some point someone added coverage for abortion. Now it's 12 weeks of parental leave:

One thing that’s important to note about the Pittsburgh and Portland policies is that they are classified as “bereavement leave.” This must be confusing for the “clump of cells” crowd, because if no actual person was lost, of what is the sufferer bereft? But to the rest of us, this policy is, again, compassionate and humane. I’m not here to judge any woman who decides she needs to terminate a pregnancy, and I pray for her spiritual and emotional healing. Also, like a natural miscarriage, an abortion causes physical and emotional trauma. A few days’ rest and recovery (and maybe even prayer) is well advised.
But we all know that “progress” usually involves taking a reasonable idea and driving it right off a cliff.

Really liking DeSantis

And not just because he held the bill-signing ceremony in Brandon, Florida.  He's one of the few politicians who can talk about the limitations of government power like a real person instead of a geek.

HD for me, not for thee

I hope there will be serious consequences for the prosecution if they really did this, particularly in a case they attempted to turn into  dispute over what one blurry frame suggests:

Don't Take Your Guns to Town, Bill


Tex gets at a big problem for the Rittenhouse defense in her comment to the post below. In discussions with people who want to see him convicted of something, I run into the same intuition over and over. "He shouldn't have been there," they say, "and he definitely shouldn't have brought a rifle." (Especially, I suspect, a scary rifle like the AR-15 they've been taught to fear.)

There's definitely a longstanding concern, expressed in the Johnny Cash song that heads this post, about young men taking guns to town. It's definitely a risk, given that young men have not fully grown into maturity of judgment and are still driven by hot pride and hormones. The fact is that this particular young man exercised exceptional judgment with his firearm. The facts show that he did not fire first, that he fired fewer shots than his attackers, that they had more guns and assaulted him in multiple ways, yet he constantly retreated from conflict and fired only when absolutely necessary. Yet the intuition, which is a moral feeling, is stronger than the facts.

It is also stronger than the law. The law is that 16 and 17 year-olds may carry rifles and shotguns in that state. A citizen, even a youth, has a legal right to be in public places (the claim that he was violating curfew was unsubstantiated and abandoned by the prosecution). He has a right to travel freely, without being stopped or assaulted or fired upon. Stopping to render aid to the wounded is permitted of citizens even if they are not government employees, and in fact often required by law: in many states, if you come upon an accident you are legally required to render aid and assistance if capable. There is no reason citizen volunteers should not put out fires in the streets even if the fire department has not shown up yet. 

Everything he was doing was legal, in other words, but it is felt to have been a provocation that should void his other legal rights -- up to and including his right to defend himself from assault, battery, theft of property such as that rifle, and so forth. 

Would he have been harmed if he had been unarmed, without the rifle as provocation? Maybe! Also in those riots an elderly man with a fire extinguisher was beaten by similar thugs just for trying to stop the fires they were starting. Just because he had a fire extinguisher in his hands, was that a provocation that voids his right to self-defense? The older man was trying to prevent arson of a fraternal organization, the Danish Lodge, which was destroyed in the fire after his beating.

Ultimately self-defense is not the right place to hang the defense of Rittenhouse. What he was engaged in was good citizenship. Citizens have a moral right to defend their community from lawless violence, even with rifles, even if they constitute themselves as a militia for the purpose of doing so. Yes, even if the government chooses to abandon its duty to protect the community from such lawless violence -- especially if they do. 

That he was defending himself is true, and a legal reason not to prosecute him. The moral feeling that he was doing something wrong is misplaced. He was doing something right. We should all respond so well in the face of danger, of arson, of mobs. We have the moral right and we have the legal right. So did he.

Catholic Archbishop Against Globalism

There’s an obvious irony in a high official of the Catholic Church protesting a global conspiracy to unite humanity under a single system of belief. That said, there’s a live issue if one such conspiracy is false and the other might be true. 

Mistrial issue takes the stage again

Be darned if I know any more what's going on in the Rittenhouse case.  There was an oral motion last week for a mistrial with prejudice to refiling, but no ruling and no further discussion during the arguments on Friday or Monday.  Suddenly today a written motion shows up, adding an explosive new claim:  that the prosecution withheld its HD version of some crucial FBI drone video and supplied the defense, the court, and the jury only with the blurry low-res version.  This post contains the HD version.

It's still not easy to see what happened, and the clearer video certainly doesn't support the prosecution's argument that Rittenhouse twisted around in a bizarre fashion for an instant to point his rifle at the Zimisky couple just before the final, fatal portion of the chase began.  Nevertheless, I hope the judge will react very forcefully indeed if he believes that the prosecution deliberately showed the jury a blurry version, particularly after all the nonsense about having its expert blow up a blobby portion of it to make its weird "provocation" argument.  It was bad enough that the video showed up on the eve of trial as it is.

It seems the judge has suggested he's going to hold off on ruling on the mistrial motion until the jury renders a verdict.  The speculation, which I think is reasonable, is that he doesn't want to take the decision from the jury as long as it's possible they'll acquit.  A jury acquittal would be better for the country than a judicial interference--unless it's a conviction or even hung jury procured by prosecutorial fraud.  Since the defense has done no wrong, there's no problem with this unequal treatment.

The red circle is drawn around the pursuer, Rosenbaum.  Rittenhouse is to the left, about to get cornered in the pack of cars before he turns and shoots Rosenbaum as Rosenbaum is catching up and lunging at him.

An Islamic Confucianism

A paper recently awarded the Aristotle prize points to a largely unstudied tradition of metaphysics in the west of what is now China. 
Scholars have written much about the Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) and his attempts to make Christianity and Confucianism palatable to each other. Yet, although Muslim communities have a long-established presence in China, we know little about the philosophical system that blended Islam and Confucianism in the heart-minds of Chinese Muslims. A careful search into the history of Chinese philosophy reveals a rich, fascinating, but hitherto understudied philosophical tradition indigenous to China, the Han-Kitab 汉克 塔布(a Chinese-Arabic compound literally meaning “the Chinese books”). In this groundbreaking project, I set out to investigate the creationist theory developed by Wang Daiyu, the earliest and one of the most influential figures in the Han-Kitab. My central undertaking is to provide a systematic analysis of Wang’s appropriation of two neo-Confucian concepts to articulate a creationist account of the origin of being: the Non-Ultimate ( wuji ⽆极 ) and the Great-Ultimate ( taiji 太极). My analysis shows these two Ultimates in Wang’s system are quite different in nature from their neo-Confucian counterparts. Deeply influenced by Sufism, Wang embeds the two Ultimates within an emanativist ontology, thereby offering a distinct model of the Ultimates from neo-Confucians’. I argue that in so doing, Wang makes a significant contribution to the history of Chinese metaphysics.
An 'emanativist' account, as she calls it, is an account of creation similar to (and probably ultimately derived from) the Neoplatonic account of creation. This system was adapted for Islam by Avicenna in his metaphysics, which is the thirteenth book of his The Healing. Wang Diayu, who was fluent in Persian and Arabic and translated the great works of Islamic philosophy into Chinese, would certainly have known of it. 

Avicenna's basic account was also adopted to Catholicism by St. Thomas Aquinas and others, and as such brings this full circle with the Catholic attempt to address Confucianism with which she begins. As it was also adapted for Judaism by Maimonides and others, this mode of thinking about how the world came to be has a claim to be the most important and widely-accepted one.

The basic way that it works in Neoplatonism is that originally all is One, and the One (which you will remember from our reading of the Parmenides -- see the sidebar if you want a refresher) is in an important sense the only real being. The One emanates the rest of creation when the One decides to examine itself, which necessitates a division between the part that is thinking, and the part that it is examining and thinking about. Such a division ends up creating more divisions as the thoughts proliferate: categories like good and bad are created, and number comes to be, and ordering these thoughts requires further divisions. Eventually the idea of everything exists, and as a further way of exploring the nature of those ideas the world is created so the ideas can play out. (An example: imagine the Platonic Ideal of a lion. It is a masterful hunter; but it cannot hunt, because it is just an idea. So the Thinker decides to make a place where lions exist, and can exercise this essence in practice).

You can see how this initial division can readily model the two Confucian Ultimates she mentions. In Catholicism, the two are The Father and the Son, which need a third thing to hold them together in relationship, and that thing is the third person of the Trinity, and the beginning of Creation. 

If you would like to read her full paper, she has made it available online.

A Hundred Thousand Overdose Deaths

So reports the NYT

Maybe we're having another debate

 I remember my amazement when Kamala Harris accused Joe Biden of racism in a debate, only to accept the position of his Vice President later.  She laughed and shrieked, "It was literally a debate!"  Ace theorizes that she believes lying is a legitimate tactic in a political debate just as bluffing is a legitimate tactic in poker.

Apparently the coast is clear to deploy the tactic again, as Harris complains that the bad white men around her "failed to position her for success."

I hate it when men fail to position me for success.  As Ace puts it, I deserve to have them hold the door for me and carry me over the threshold, so I can be a star in my own right.

Any landing you can swim away from

 I stole the line from one of my neighbors, commenting on this small plane that went down in the small bay between us and the nearest small town.

We don't know what happened yet.  He was flying into our small community airport and lost power at the end of about an hour's flight, a mile or so from the runway.  He wasn't hurt so's you'd notice.  Apparently the fishing guide who was meeting him saw him going down and hotfooted it out to the bay to bail him out, so he didn't stay long in the only mildly cool water, still somewhere in the 70s.

Consideration: A Cookbook

Occasionally I have posted recipes here, recently for my barbecue sauce, several for chili and also several recipes for using datil pepper. I'm thinking of putting together a cookbook of my favorites, to include meat pies and breads, perhaps my mead recipe, and so forth and so on. Would any of you be interested in such a thing? I would probably self-publish it through Amazon like I did my other books. 

School Board Meetings Are Getting Spicy

I would never have thought that the local school board would turn out to be the most dangerous place in America, but lately people are being threatened with FBI investigations for attending them and opposing the bureaucrats.

This guy went a little further, suggesting that he has "a thousand soldiers" he'll be bringing to the next meeting. Now, I don't actually believe that he has any soldiers, not even metaphorical ones. He seems rather unhinged to be able to command the loyalty of a regiment-sized force that is not bound to him by any official military discipline. 

Still, who knows what the limits are here? PTAs across the country may transform into counter-revolutionary elements. These are strange times. 

"Everyone Takes a Beating Once in a While"

This is the standard they'd like to apply to all of us, not just Kyle. If you get attacked by Antifa or BLM, your duty is to take your licks. It's just part of life, getting beaten.

That's not the standard that our legislatures have set regarding self-defense. Nor is it in keeping with our legal traditions, nor our rights as free men and women. We do not have to submit to beatings. We have the right to defend ourselves from being beaten, even with rifles if necessary. That is the law, and these prosecutors are lying scoundrels of the worst sort. 

A Spectacular Collection of Lies

The prosecution's closing argument today in the Rittenhouse case fantastically misrepresented both the facts and the law. It is not the case -- contra the prosecution -- that you give up your right to self-defense by virtue of having brought a gun. The main reason most citizens carry guns who do is to provide themselves with an option for self-defense. The law fully supports defending yourself against criminal harm, including with lethal force if a reasonable person would fear death or grievous bodily harm from the criminal violence. 

Likewise, there is no standard whereby 'bringing a gun to a fistfight' is even wrong. It's tactically wise, and perfectly legal given that no one is obligated to submit to being made a party to a fistfight without his permission. Kyle didn't go there to fistfight. He went to put out fires and render medical aid. 

Furthermore, it wasn't 'a fistfight.' Testimony established that Kyle was fired upon, and one of the witnesses admitted pointing a gun at Kyle's head. One of the prosecution's witnesses!

Don't even get me started on the prosecutor pointing a rifle at the jury without even checking it to be sure it was unloaded. He should have been arrested on the spot. That's how people get shot -- ask Alec Baldwin. 

This has been a travesty. How is it acceptable for a prosecutor to lie to the jury about the legal standards, or the facts in evidence? These aren't matters of interpretation. They're black letter law, or matters proven by undisputed eyewitness testimony.

Fake News Today

DB: Draft dodgers vote to make women register for the draft.

BB: 'Kamala Harris is extremely likeable and good at her job,' announces Psaki for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Actually, that last one's not fake. I don't think the first one is either.

Georgia Ballots Missing

The ballot images created by the electronic Dominion systems in almost half of Georgia’s counties have been destroyed, in spite of Federal laws requiring keeping them for approximately two years. 

Satire or Prophecy?

Hard to tell, these days. From the prophets at SNL, The Bubble:

And in just one example of the prophecy being fulfilled, NYPD Cops Settling Into Florida Nicely.

Happy Birthday, Sandhal Bergman

She is 70. In 1982, she played Valeria in a film of some renown. 

Brilliant solution

In what is proving to be the standard cognitive avoidance technique, pioneered by the Commander in Chief, one of my neighbors first objected that the $450K number was ridiculous and demanded to know where I got it, then did a quick search and came back to change her argument to "But you know they actually deserve it." Either way, Mr. Cruz's proposal is sound: pay them with Hunter Biden paintings. Win-win.

Nailed it

Admitting Rittenhouse acted in self-defense means admitting the fiery but mostly peaceful protest in Kenosha was really just a straight-up riot. That's why a large part of the American public can't allow the thought to intrude on their consciousness.